By Avery T. Phillips
Social entrepreneurs drive society forward by focusing on the environment, the people and the culture around them as well as profits. Whether your company began with a social enterprise mission or is just getting started in the socially responsible world, it’s imperative that you manage your small business finances in such a way that balances your duties to your employees and stakeholders with your social initiatives. A company without profits can’t drive much of anything, and preparing for the future is as important as giving back today.
Move Your Fax Machine Online
Many business owners aren’t aware that standalone fax machines aren’t secure enough for financial data and still rely on this antiquated method of transmitting information. All-in-one machines are ripe for social engineering, where employees may divulge information overseen at the printer, and provide opportunities for outright theft or leaks of confidential information. Besides, most socially conscious small businesses seek to reduce their carbon footprint and eliminate waste.
Moving your fax processes online reduces or eliminates paper waste and potentially harmful chemicals. This enables the addition of secure socket layer (SSL) encryption, the same level found on secure servers and emails, and allows your faxes to work with many different receiving devices, including smartphones and private servers. Digitizing your fax methods is a smart choice for both financial safety and the environment.
Secure Data in the Cloud
While you’re making the transition to online fax, consider moving all of your financial data to a secured server space online. Two-factor identification processes make the storage of your information exceptionally safe, replacing the locked file cabinet or password-protected hard drive you may be currently using. Cloud data also facilitates easy sharing with stakeholders or other owners and managers, simplifying much of your workload by allowing integration across departments and interface with various secure payroll and accounting software options.
Consider Health Coverage Options Under the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act changed much of the way larger businesses handle healthcare, but it also provides a wealth of options for small-business owners. Social entrepreneurship means giving more back to your workers as well as the community, and embracing these options enables you to do just that.
If your company employs fewer than 50 full-time employees, you are not required under the ACA to provide health insurance. This is an important benefit for many workers, however, and social entrepreneurs can still get competitive rates and possibly even qualify for credits by purchasing plans for their workers through the Small-Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, website. This website works much like the healthcare exchanges for the public, but it sells policies directly to socially minded companies looking to cover their employees.
Check Your Benefits With a Tax Professional
Social entrepreneurs often offer a wealth of benefits above and beyond the expectations of healthcare and paid time off. These may range from performance incentives, to tickets, to local events and expos, and even national forums or conferences. Many benefits, including bonuses and some incentive rewards, may require special consideration from your tax professional.
The history of employee benefits and taxes is fraught with change and red tape, making it wise to turn to a trusted and informed individual. Consult with a tax professional each year to ensure that your business expenses meet any requirements for deductions and find out if there are any tax incentives you may be missing.
Don’t Give Away the Farm
With a focus on giving to employees, the community and Mother Earth, it’s easy for a socially minded business to end up spending too much. Turn to a trusted stakeholder or mentor with a master’s of public administration for more information on how altruism can both positively and negatively affect operating budgets. Having at least one experienced business professional on your advisory council or board of directors can help when it comes to avoiding financial disaster and ensure you have plenty of funds on hand to fuel your social initiatives now and in the years to come.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.